If you’re short on garden space, growing zucchini vertically is a smart alternative. With a reputation for being a sprawling plant, zucchini grows quickly and tends to overtake garden beds. By growing it vertically, you can save considerable space and also harvest the fruit much more easily. Patio and balcony gardeners, rejoice!
Zucchini is one of the easiest and most prolific vegetables you can grow in a traditional garden. This begs the question, is it just as easy to grow these massive courgettes in containers?
Not exactly. But with a few pointers, it is absolutely possible to grow zucchini in pots and reap many of the same benefits.
In this article, we’ll show you how to grow zucchini in small spaces and give you some valuable tips to help you find success. We’ll also look at the best varieties for container planting (hint: you’ll want to think small) and walk through some common diseases and issues you might run into.
Which Zucchini Varieties Grow Best in Containers?
Some of our favorite zuc and summer squash varieties to grow in container gardens are:
- Astia – This vining zuc produces compact, stumpy vines that are easy to corral and fruit that is absolutely delicious.
- Black Beauty Heirloom – This bushy-type zuc produces fruit with dark green skin that you can harvest all summer long. The huge leaves on these plants can reach heights of four feet!
- Buckingham Patio – These bushy, yellow-skinned summer squash grow upright to save space and produce long golden fruit.
- Emerald Delight – These tasty, traditional-style zucs grow into compact plants that are disease resistant.
- Max’s Gold – This yellow-skinned squash variety forms bushy, petite plants that produce delicate fruit.
Tips for Growing Zucchini in Pots
Pick a large pot
Regardless of whether you are planting a bushy or vining variety, you will still need a fairly large container.
Look for pots at least 12 inches deep and 18 inches across. Large plastic storage bins work well, but you will need to drill drainage holes in the bottom. You can also build planter boxes out of wood or corrugated steel.
Some of the most compact types of zucs, such as the Buckingham patio, can grow in containers as small as five-gallon buckets. But, in general, bigger is better.
Fill your pot with quality potting soil
As with most vegetables in pots, choosing a quality potting soil is vital.
Unlike garden soil or fill dirt, potting soil is made up almost entirely of peat moss, bark, and perlite or vermiculite. This special mixture creates an airy, non-compact environment. This is extra important inside containers that do not get the benefit of aerating bugs.
Potting soil also helps keep your plant’s roots moist without suffocating them in soggy conditions.
Sow your seeds after the last frost
Zucchinis are warm-season plants. This means they like to mature during the heat of summer and aren’t hardy in the face of cold weather.
You will want to sow your zuc seeds a couple of weeks after the last frost in spring.
Start by planting a scattering of seeds, each at least four inches from the edges of your container. Place the seeds an inch below the soil surface. Once the seedlings have reached a few inches tall, thin the seeds back so that you have pairs of seedlings every eighteen inches or so.
For smaller containers, you may want to thin down to a single robust seedling to avoid crowding.
Feed and water
Zucchini grow fast and large. This means they need a lot of sustenance to keep them going.
Be sure to water your plants frequently, especially as the weather warms. Stick your finger into the soil and water anytime the top inch or so is dry. Watering on a consistent schedule will help keep the plant healthy and the fruits from rotting or dying off prematurely.
Zucs also need monthly fertilization treatments when planted in pots.
Each time you water your container garden, important nutrients are pulled out of the soil and flushed away. To replenish these and keep your zucs healthy, add a balanced liquid fertilizer every three to four weeks.
Train vines as needed
If you are growing viney-type zucs, you will need to train them to grow up a trellis or support cage.
Summer squash vines produce tendrils similar to pea vines that help them climb vertically. Unfortunately, these tendrils are not usually strong enough to hold the weight of the vine, especially once it starts bearing fruit.
For this reason, you will have to do most of the legwork to train and support your zuc if you want it to grow vertically.
The simplest way to do this is to place a heavy-duty tomato cage around the seedling while it is still small. As the plant matures, gently guide the vine back inside the confines of the cage every few days. The maturing vine and fruit will rest against the cage, while the horizontal supports will help maintain space and airflow between the oversized leaves.
Squash and Zucchini plants are very prolific! They will produce fresh zucchini all throughout the spring and summer if you keep the diseases and pests under control. Be sure to harvest the zucchini at eight inches! When zucchini fruits stay on the plant too long they get too large and are tougher. You can use larger fruits for zucchini bread and other types of baked goods.